We at HEB Magazine do our best to let the world know exactly what our islands have to offer, and where exactly to find what you're interested in.  HEB is printed once a year and thousands of copies are distributed across the Islands.

And the on-line edition - below! - is updated throughout the year with new reports, photographs and information from all across the Islands.

So, just click the download button, or go to our page-turning version, and enjoy learning about the beautiful Scottish Hebrides, and, if you aren’t here already, make sure to plan a visit sometime soon!

 

Success all-round for smokehouse and shop

By Eilidh Whiteford

“Appear at the right time and visitors might just get a wee sample straight out of the oven – and that's a rare treat!” says Salar Smokehouse owner Iain MacRury.

Originally established in 1987, Salar Smokehouse was bought by former production manager Iain in 2015, when previous owners Loch Duart Ltd shut down the plant.

Last year saw the business reopen to great success, not only through its internationally recognised Salar Salmon products, but also the expansion of the Smokehouse shop to now house fine crafts and gift-wares by 27 local artisans, including exclusive Hebridean Jewellery ranges.

“The shop has been a success and everything we stock is unique to us,” said Iain. “We make sure we don't carry lines that the other island shops do as we don't want to compete, and it lets us offer something different.”

And this summer new product developments and fish flavours ensure even more mouth-watering treats in store, with the new 'Salar Smokie' – the Uist version of an Arbroath Smokie - and new salmon flavours of Lemon and Black Pepper, Lemon and Tarragon, and Chilli and Lime.

“We make our own rub for the chilli and lime, so you can't get quite the same anywhere else,” Iain said, adding: “And it's going down very well so far.”

Yet there is more, as during the summer a stop-off at Salar Smokehouse could see customers come away with just about anything, as Iain and his team will be smoking whatever fish and shellfish the local boats bring home on the day.

“We'll have smoked scallops in the summer and we'll be doing special smoking's on the day of whatever comes in from the local boats,” Iain said. “It'll be limited and a one-off each day, but it'll be as fresh and as local as it comes!”

For delicious fish, gifts, crafts and much more, a stop at Salar Smokehouse, situated at The Pier in Lochcarnan, is well worth it – especially after the fishing boats have landed! 

 

Rare moths, ancient remains…all part of the Uig story

 

By Eric John MacDonald 

Mary Sherwood Campbell - author of the sadly forgotten classic ‘Flora of Uig’ - made her first visit to the Hebrides in the summer of 1939.

She wrote later:“ I had been told that the finest scenery in the Outer Hebrides was in Western Lewis.  Even so, I was surprised by its wild magnificence.  Rocky hills giving an illusion of much greater height than their actual maximum of 1855 feet; coastal cliffs more rugged and precipitous than those of Cornwall or Land’s End; sandy bays fringing a sea of Mediterranean colour flanked by dunes and flower carpeted machair.  Beyond them, tiny villages, some with cottages of the old thatched type interspersed with strips of cultivation and ample peat stacks.  And all around one sees evidence of ancient settlements and long vanished cultures.”

If you stand in the middle of Uig Sands - the Traigh Mhòr - today the scene she so vividly described 70 years ago is barely changed.  The thatched houses are gone but the hills, the flower carpeted machair and the rugged cliffs remain.  Within 15 minutes you can visit an Iron Age fort (Dun Borranish), a couple of Bronze Age cairns, the site of a probable Neolithic chambered tomb and the ruins of an early Christian chapel.  On one side of the bay is the spot where the Viking Age chess pieces were found; on the other the 18th century manse Baile na Cille and its ancient cemetery.  Nearby is all that remains of the old village of Erista, cleared of its inhabitants in the 1840’s.

Read more: Rare moths, ancient remains…all part of the Uig story

Uist Wool…spinning a new Island future 

By Elly Welch  

On a quiet croft on the island of Grimsay, North Uist, there’s a purr of machinery spinning through the spring breeze.  But this is no unwanted 21st century intrusion.  This is the quiet song of century old pistons, brought out of retirement to hum new hope for a place that the wool industry forgot – but whose people never did.   

As you travel the single track circling Grimsay you can’t miss the cheerful green roof of Uist Wool, a community-managed spinning mill and brand new visitor facility including a shop, viewing area, and workshop and training space. 

And travel to it you must this summer, for this place, now open to the public for the first time, is exciting.  It’s not just immensely creative, it’s practical too - like a good friend, which it looks set to be for the crofting, artistic and visitor communities of the Outer Hebrides.     

The idea for a new woolen mill based in Uist emerged in 2008 when it became clear that native wool had little or no value.  Fleeces were being burnt, or thrown away – no longer worth the cost of transport to mainland markets.  Concerned locals began to investigate ways to bring the industry back and, soon, the idea for a new mill was formed.  Among its hard working volunteers was Uist Wool’s current director, Dana MacPhee.  

Read more: Uist Wool…spinning a new Island future 

Visiting Shiants, the seabird isles!

 

By Eilidh Whiteford

In winter they are an interesting place, but when the seabirds arrive, the Shiants come to life,” says Joe Engebretsen who, along with his father Charles, has been taking visitors by boat to explore the small island site through long-standing family business Sea Lewis.

Trained as a commercial diver in the early 1990s, Joe spent nine years in the Royal Marines, working primarily on fast boats and landing craft, before returning home with his family in 2001 to work as a diver, boat operator and fire-fighter, as well as running Engebret Ltd filling station in Stornoway.

He joined his father Charles, a commercial diver in the 1970s who has taken visitors diving and on boat-trips around Lewis since 1990, and between Joe and Charles, visitors can be sure they are in safe hands and will have an enjoyable experience.

Offering short fishing trips – perfect for families with young children who may not wish to go far from shore – as well as a two-hour sightseeing journey down the east coast of Lewis to Marvig and the Witches Pool, the speciality of Sea Lewis is the spectacular Shiant Islands trip.

Read more: Visiting Shiants, the seabird isles!

Music students forging many exciting paths 

The music courses have been in existence now for 16 years at the Benbecula campus of Lews Castle College UHI.   

As programme leaders for the University of the Highlands and Islands BA (Hons) Applied Music degree Lews Castle College UHI had their first cohort of graduates  in 2016.  They also offer a masters degree - MA Music and the Environment. 

They are educational leaders in the use of blended learning to teach – allowing students flexibility to build their music studies around their lives – enabling them to study from home or indeed to move to a beautiful and culturally rich location such as Uist to study.  The degree is multi-genre and develops skills in a range of areas relative to music and the creative industries.  Uist attracts students with an interest in traditional and Gaelic music. 

The 16 years of music courses have been celebrated in a new composition ‘Suite Uist’ by Anna-Wendy Stevenson, recorded by the Far Flung Collective and released at Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow in January this year. 

Read more: Music students forging many exciting paths